Badwater 135 – The Race

19/10/2017

(This is from memory, and given the length of challenge and sleep deprivation, is as I remember it… the crew may likely have a slightly different perspective, especially about my sleepy grumpiness hahaha… it’s also a long read, so grab a coffee beforehand if you want to continue reading… )

… we started towards Badwater Basin…

this was it…

Photo copyright: AdventureCORPS Inc.

I got my tracker attached… we had our team photo taken… crew chief Cheryl was going over a final check through with the vehicle and gear…¬†Pamela and I took the opportunity to joke around doing a yoga crow balance before Cheryl came back and told us off… not to risk an injury just before the race! Naughty oops ūüôā

We gathered together to get ready for the start… it’s Badwater baby…

Photo copyright: Pamela Hogue

then…. OMG WE ARE AT BADWATER….

Photo copyright: Pamela Hogue

The race director Chris Kostman¬†called the runners… 8pm wave photo, social media scan and talk… and then we were off… no major fanfare, no crowds… just the runners, staff and crew… a few bystanders… more a case of “oh ok then, just off for a bit of a trot…”

It was hot… and when they say it’s hot in Death Valley, they’re not joking: even the toilets flush with hot water (yes, I checked)… 8pm and it was like running into a huge fan which was blasting furnace-like temperature heat at you with nowhere to escape. Stupidly I didn’t put a hat on as there was no sun. Bit of a mistake right there. It was apparently surprisingly humid… usually 0% but come race day that had risen to around 25%… I figured that shouldn’t be a problem coming from the UK where I live with much higher humidity. I saw lightning in the distance to my right… good, not going that way. Lightning to the left… uh oh… I’d heard there had been flash flood warnings and some rain for part of the course, but hoped that would have dissipated before I reached any such areas.¬†Having never been anywhere near a flash flood, Cheryl and team had been drilling it into me that if I saw running water, to stop and not push through… even only a couple of inches could hide debris and be dangerous.

It’s just a run, a race… it will start and finish… just like every other one… you can do this… don’t go out too fast… pull back… pace feels ok… hmmm that’s a bit warm… 10 minutes later… damn, head’s a bit hot, could have done with an ice pack in my baseball cap… hmmm this feels rather uphill… how many miles to the turn? The thoughts kept turning over in my head… the crew leapfrogged past… I’d originally thought of every 10 miles but in this heat was glad Cheryl had insisted on every 3…

By mile 13 the stomach felt decidedly sloshy ūüė¶ … I didn’t want any food and started having trouble drinking the very warm water in the bottles.¬†I generally run with water and don’t do energy drinks or powders, and had struggled with finding any type of drink that I liked except for orange and lemonade which was flat in the States, no carbonation! Yummmmm…¬†¬†I’d also planned for a recovery protein drink¬†to be available to sip at stops between certain sections.¬†We brought this forward… anything to get calories and liquid in… the section to Furnace Creek passed relatively easily¬†and¬†I stopped there briefly to use the facilities… then on to Stovepipe Wells… running that first night felt good… no star gazing due to cloud cover and runners spreading out… but that meant I had time on my own…¬†in the utter stillness and peace of the night… a¬†small downhill section, the crew ahead… music playing… I was actually doing this… at a race that many dreamed of, a dream achieved… I put my arms out wide, threw my head back and just let my legs fly¬†briefly… a feeling of¬†pure¬†happiness and joy washed over me… a car¬†drove past… so I stopped until they’d disappeared from view, and then did it again. ūüôā

Dawn appeared, as did Stovepipe Wells… I wanted my ice-cream… they do amazing ice cream there… but¬†the machine at the gas station shop wasn’t working ūüė¶ can we say disappointed bunny? …¬†checked in to the Time Station, got stocked up¬†from the crew… Jenny waiting, pacer number attached, ready to join for the first climb up to Towne Pass. I already knew this would be a walk-run strategy as although it¬†had seemed very flat when we checked it out pre-race,¬†looking backwards would show how deceptive that incline was. Plus my legs hurt. And it was hot. (Excuses for walking were never far away!) I’d also had¬†my baseball cap on for some time by this point, and had been¬†ecstatically embracing the¬†ice bag babies that would¬†keep on being replenished to the finish line!¬†The only problem was they melted so quickly.¬†We went through a lot of ice… ice bags under the baseball cap… yes I know I looked like I had a double head, but by then I really didn’t care…¬†ice bags in the short pockets, ice down the¬†SPF¬†arm sleeves…¬†the water bags then dispersed down the neck, down the top, down the back, down the¬†legs… not such a good idea bursting them to run down the inside of your shorts though…

Slow progress, the crew kept swapping pacing duties… when I say paced, I mean accompany because they were behind and stayed at the speed I set… no rushing this one, the main aim was just to finish… Jenny swapped over to Becky… swapped to Cheryl…¬†on we went… then a fantastic long winding downhill section towards Panamint… Pamela with me on this one for a little while until¬†I jammed the music back on… picked up the pace… now I know you get advised not to steam down this bit but had assumed (mistake number 3) that that was because a long steepish downhill would trash your quads and I actually quite like (non-mountainous steep that you’re not going to kill yourself on) downhill running because I can actually run (versus the awful kill me now I’m dying uphill sections I trudge)… so I just couldn’t resist and let go… it felt utterly amazing… I felt like I was a “really fast” runner for once, you know like those who can run a sub 3 marathon, or an 18 minute park run… I wasn’t just running… I was really running, faster than I felt I’d ever run before… my garmin had died so I had Jenny’s watch on… it felt like I hit speeds momentarily that I don’t even do on my 200m repeats training… dial it back Michelle, the cadence ramping up due to the incline (it was steeper than I had expected)… 4.25… whoa what??? Is that minute per kilometre or mile… must check with Jenny… am I seeing things…. I remember going past a few runners that I expected to finish many hours ahead of me (and they did)… but it felt so good even with a¬†feeling of “brakes on” due to the degree of incline, so I kept trying to dial it back… I didn’t slow down enough…

Big mistake… you’re running down to a valley which will then slowly rise up again… midway down to that valley I swear lies a blanket… above the blanket (the first half of the run) the heat was bearable… you then go through this blanket layer and the heat just hits you… but you don’t properly¬†realise because it takes a while for your dazed sleep-deprived brain to stop focusing on the good happy endorphin rush and understand that your core temperature is heating up… now Furnace Creek may have been so named because it’s like being in a furnace, but I swear at midday, Panamint Springs is hotter!

I reached the crew car… and blew up… it was like standing in some sort of mini heatwave which emanated outwards from inside my body… then sitting perched on the back of the car with a body that felt like it was being cooked from the inside out, feet throbbing from suspected blisters (and once I’d stopped running, boy were they stinging), feeling sick, dizzy and unable to eat, I thought my race was over.


Thankfully, the crew were experienced so dealt with the situation rather than making any hasty decisions about ending my race… ziplock bags went over trainers and into an ice bowl to cool my feet, neck wraps soaked in icy water were draped around my neck, ice-filled ziplock bags were placed inside my baseball cap and into my shorts pockets and arms sleeves, and a water-soaked scarf was draped over my head…¬†Becky (who is a sports massage therapist) worked on getting my legs to stop seizing up.¬†Just a couple of miles to get to Panamint… there would be no running there… slow painful steps, the scarf soaked again, wrapped around my head to block out everything… my crew got¬†me up, got me walking and I¬†eventually staggered into Panamint time station.

How on earth was I going to run that distance again… I could barely walk.¬†We got checked in, the crew got my stuff and helped me over to the campground showers… I was so grateful they allowed us to use them… that melted ice water that went everywhere, including down the inside of the shorts?… Chafing! Bad bad chafing… it was soooo sore, it was almost tear-inducing… I could hardly lift my arms up… had to be helped… the shower was so good, but oh so bad… and for those who have experienced any kind of chafing, you know how it can sting when the water hits… it brought tears… and negative thoughts… I went to brush my teeth… holy hell… that orange and lemonade I’d been drinking… pure acid… now as I’d expected some sensitivity had brought along mouthwash at the suggestion of my dental hygienist, but OMG that was pure pain… is any race worth this? And while my legs weren’t running, the mental negativity was off at a fast pace… is any race worth possible scarring, worth the pain, the money, the abuse you put your body through… how much worse is it going to get… what if I can’t finish… who am I to think I can do this… how the hell did I even get here… chatted to the crew, got a verbal kick up the backside… with more to follow throughout the rest of the race… I’d expected this and had forewarned them… also of what and who I wanted to reminded of… friends who had pushed through challenges, other racers I’ve met who are enduring life threatening illnesses… the charity I was fundraising for and the help they gave to others… miles dedicated to certain people… as the saying goes, when you change the¬†way you look at things, the things you look at change!

Nothing different really to certain points I’ve reached in most of the challenges I’ve done… and isn’t this part of why we do it… because of the journey that such challenges take us on… they can take you to the deepest, darkest parts of who you think you are… challenge your beliefs, your strengths, your weaknesses, your hopes and your fears… and they change you… because once you’ve experienced these things, like everything else in life… they change you. You will never “not have done this”…

New kit on… new tape… hobbling back over the road (for those following¬†that wondered why my tracker said I was slightly away from everyone else… this would probably be why ūüôā ) to get some food… but I couldn’t eat… everything felt dry… my crew kept telling me to eat, I kept replying I wasn’t hungry, sounding a bit of a spoiled brat! There was a medic centre with someone dealing with footcare, so I hobbled over to the Cottage… sat down and waited my turn… and ended up having a chat with Jon vonHof as he sorted my feet out, none other than the author of Fixing my Feet. I was rather whingey by this time, calloused areas had somehow appeared with liquid beneath many layers of skin, so it was sore to flex the feet, let alone touch them. Jon pointed out he couldn’t get any of the red stuff out that had formed beneath those callouses and that they were actually in really good condition compared to some others, so he did what he could and then expertly taped them up.¬†I have to say they weren’t white and they certainly hadn’t appeared to be callouses before the race! It was so cool and comfortable in there, and the sofa would have been perfect for a snooze, however¬†my crew dragged me out. Time to get moving. We’d spent more time than we should have there.

Father Crowley beckoned.¬† The sun was out, showcasing such stunning views that no photograph can do justice to the area. It’s like someone had painted a canvas background which didn’t look real. We took turns in seeing what images the clouds and rocks formed… and there were many… walk, shuffle, walk…

Up to Darwin and into the second night… memory fades badly and looking back at the timing splits, I don’t think I’ve ever plodded any sections of a race so slowly… shows what the cumulative effects can be… and whilst I can’t say for sure that the pre-race sleep deprivation had an effect, I know I’ve never felt so bad on a night section before: I remember struggling to keep the eyes open, blurry red lights in the distance occasionally, mostly walking as my feet hurt so much, every step stinging, being so tired, struggling to get even a crisp or two eaten, demanding sleep. I ended up taking two¬†naps in the front car seat, one 15 minutes long… no idea when or where that was. The second was at Darwin time station… I do however remember there was very loud music from another car… I eventually dropped off only to be woken a few minutes later by the crew… they’d let me have around 20 minutes, maybe even 30 in total.

We started off again… Brad passing us… I was surprised to see him, thinking he’d be way ahead… he’d had a bad turn and had had to lie down for an hour or so I think. I remember what looked like sand washed trail… and I think this was where some flash floods had happened the day before…

We kept going.¬† And then I had my first ever experience of throwing up on a race.¬†I’ve felt nausea before, had the stomach sloshing… but I’ve never been in the position where I physically couldn’t stop myself from throwing up… first time for everything I guess…¬†not that I had anything in my stomach.¬†The crew were amazing, keeping me going, trying to get me to eat and drink, even making hot tea to carry with me (what can I say? I’m British ūüôā ). By then I’d also¬†got the hang of the biffy bags…

Hari, this section included since you specifically¬†asked… for those that wonder just what a biffy bag is, I suggest you google ūüėÄ … the National Parks have certain requirements that must be obeyed… and¬†one is that you can’t just go to the toilet anywhere you please! Plus it’s pretty open with nothing much to hide behind… at least in MdS you have mini dunes some of the time… now these bags are like a plastic black bin bag but also have some stuff in there to help with biodegrading (I didn’t look too closely), and some plastic gloves to obviously dispose of said bag. They took a bit of getting used to, but that first time… and¬†let’s not forget that with all that running your legs get stiff… I struggled… and there seemed to be a bit of wind blowing that bag around… Pamela offered to help lower me into position… and came up to stand in front of me to preserve a lingering sense of modesty if¬†any runners were approaching the area¬†(always remember to turn your headtorch off people), she was chatting merrily away as I tried to work out how to hold and place¬†the damn bag and get into a safe position!… and then stood there chatting… facing me… totally unconcerned and unaware… I’m like… Pamela!!! What? Ohhhhh right…. she turns around and carries on chatting…. noooo, move away….. this far? No further… she turns around to face me, this ok?… I could barely reply for laughing… now there’s crewing and then there’s above and beyond…¬†some people just automatically go the extra mile (I think my whole crew deserve that accolade)… on a serious note, I’ve since recommended these to runners who have Crohns and other IBDs, people who have struggled to train long runs because of what they experience with their diseases, so if you are reading this and wonder if there are any products that could help you run where there may not be appropriate facilities… check them out. I believe they’re available on Amazon UK otherwise check out http://www.biffybag.com. But Pamela, remember where you asked about my favourite memories… this has become one of them hahaha!

Photo copyright: Michelle Payne (taken by crew)

Jenny had encouraged me through the night to look up at the sky (don’t wanna), enjoy where you are (don’t care)… keep your eyes open (can’t)… eat some food (not hungry)… to the point where I most certainly wasn’t a joy to be around… especially when she started laughing at me (I really wasn’t a happy bunny at that point)… trying to force me to eat (I’m a bit stubborn myself)… and shoving rice cakes at me, asking every 30 seconds are you eating, until I waved a rice cake angrily under her nose and swore (literally) that I was eating the damn rice cake… (guess what I bought when I got home)… anyway, daylight dawned as we were on the way to Lone Pine… a long flat stretch that I had hoped, pre-race, to run. Unfortunately come race day I wasn’t feeling quite so energetic, and Jenny with me again during this point, getting similar responses to the nighttime when she kept asking if I could shuffle (I had cheered up at other points though, wasn’t being a totally moody cow the whole way… I don’t think)… and on either side of this road we were walking was sand… with flies… and the flies buzzed a lot… and there seemed to be a couple that were determined to stay with us the whole way. Now I know with the heat and sweat over those 50 miles since Panamint you’re not going to be the freshest person out there… but those flies¬† seemed completely enamoured of me: such affection not reciprocated, especially when they kept going in front of my face as if to sting. I kept trying to wave them away. They reappeared… I got more grumpy as they wouldn’t get lost… the air started turning a bit blue… and I have no idea how Jenny didn’t get annoyed with them when they buzzed her but they were seriously aggravating me… I guess you had to be there, but to anyone who didn’t know what we were doing, we must have looked a pair of crazy people… shuffling along, sweating clothes, stinking… flies buzzing around us, hands waving… and in the end I couldn’t bear it any longer and muttered Jenny just … just….. “just what” she said… “Kill them” I replied… “just kill them… kill them all”… she cracked up. Lone Pine appeared like a mirage in the distance, one that took hours to materialise and eventually I reached the outskirts with Pamela alongside…¬† and as we approached the town we saw another runner ahead. It gave me the impetus to shuffle into a trot… the drive to compete (yes, even as a back of the pack runner) was still there… we got nearer and then realised she (Coleen) had flip flops on… if I thought my feet were painful as I’d whinged to my crew, well hers were worse and here she was pushing on… it was an incredibly inspiring moment. She wasn’t sure she would finish… well anyone who can push on like that, we told her we’d expect to see them at the finish line because she’d come so far and pushed through so much. We picked up the pace and were back to a walk run pacing… until we got to the time station. I had a crazy few minutes here thinking I was actually going to get a couple of hours sleep. Most people were ahead, there was absolutely no pressure to have to leave immediately and finish in X hours… it was just about a finish. The crew were unloading part of our vehicle into our rooms… they asked what I wanted to do…

Photo copyright: Michelle Payne (taken by crew)

We decided to get it done rather than sleep.¬† Unfortunately it was the hottest part of the day and going up seemed to not only be completely exposed but also take forever… about 13 miles… and each of the crew wanted a part of that final stage so we worked out who would be driving, crewing, pacing… and off we set… a section with each, almost an individual summary of the journey… the last few miles with Cheryl, my crew chief… up miles that felt so steep and climbing elevation that made my heart pound like crazy (I’m not great with elevation nor altitude)… we leapfrogged with Adam from Oz a few times, sharing a mutual love of turning the air blue as we wondered why we were crazy enough to do this, how much it hurt and what we thought of it all… and as we went up, cars were beeping on their way down, runners and teams who had finished, shouting encouragement as they went past… I had to keep stopping for a few moments to get my breath… and Cheryl kept singing away (probably to drown out my constant “are we there yet” comments)… until we recognised where the final turn and the finish line would be. I took a moment there just for me… that bittersweet moment where you can’t wait to finish, but you also don’t want it to finish… where you realise that yes you have achieved that dream… Cheryl hugged me, what a journey we had all been on… we turned the corner, got out the flag the crew had passed to me and beckoned to them to join us…

The finish line loomed: an emotional moment words cannot describe.

Photo copyright: AdventureCORPS Inc.

To see it, to approach it, to be joined by your team who have supported and encouraged every step of the way, to step foot over it, hand in hand with your friends, achieving a goal that at one point you’d never dreamed you’d be capable of starting, let alone accomplishing: it’s priceless. It’s a moment that will stay with me for life. I would say to anyone who dreams of doing this: dream it, plan it, train for it and go for it. If I can do it, so can you.

And of course there many other happy moments that will stay with me… joking at crew points, run dancing as another crew (I think Brazilian team) drove past us singing… where your friends literally have your back and make sure you don’t veer into the road (especially when traffic is around) because you’re pretty much sleepwalking… where you’re with a group of friends who support and empower each other, everyone works and pulls together, too many wonderful memories to add to what is already a very long report.

Photo copyright: Michelle Payne

People ask “what is Badwater”… well yes it’s a race, but it’s also more than that. It’s a journey. Like most endurance challenges, you don’t finish it the same person that you started as. This particular race encompasses what is usually a very long journey towards it, the planning, the time, the sacrifices you make, the money you spend, the training you do. It’s also about the people that share that journey with you… both leading up to the race and, for myself and my crew, the week that we spent together… it’s intense, and at the time, all-consuming. You learn things about¬†yourself, and about others. It brings friendship and camaraderie, a sense of belonging, of support that you give and receive, it brings travel to distant lands that you might otherwise not have visited and scenery to take your breath away. It challenges you in a way that is hard to describe… in what you physically can achieve and how you push yourself, to the internal drive and headspace that works with that physicality. It gives you pain: mental and physical, but also such wonderful experiences.¬†As Becky says… “it’s never just a run”…

It’s so good and so hard, and so brutal… but so good… that I want to go back and do it again. If they’ll have me (and us), of course ūüôā

Thanks for reading.
Michelle

Now what shall I do next…

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What is Hell

25/03/2015

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What is Hell?

The word
it conjures
red flames and heat
where fears abounds
and Pain is all.

There a devil sits
upon his throne
wielding a mighty club
denouncing sinners
as they run amok
and have a ball.

But this is just imagery
unknown
no science
almost a cartoon
a visual…
held in minds
pinned by Fear
a place to visit
or be cast
for when we think
our last breath will have eventually passed.

But what if it is real?
What if it isn’t a dim and distant land?
Swathed in mist
obscure and hidden
a place, if we’re honest
most don’t think we will ever see or visit
let alone dwell in its’ darkened depths!

What would it look like
… if it were real?
What would it contain?
Would it have colour
or be black, white, even grey?
Be a cacophony of noise
movement and pain
drudgery with no play?

What if it were pure emptiness
silence
a hole in time
suspended
amid absolute nothingness
a total absence?

No feeling
no breathing
no warmth
no hope
no life giving spark.
Just…
a total and utter void?

What if those we know
our friends
our loved ones
in their minds
were in this place?
Stuck
alone
no light
no happiness
no inner glow.

Would you then think
maybe even consider…
what strength
what courage
what amazing skill
it takes to live?
To breathe
to choose to enter each day
each affray?
Pushing through
existing
trying
looking for a ladder to climb…

Out from a pit
a hole
a cavern
a place so deep
just imagining it
could make you want to weep?

Would you listen?
Would you hold?
Would you dare to be bold?
Would you open your heart
open your mind
offer your soul?
Give those who suffer
a brief respite
by acting as a buffer?

What if Hell indeed is a place on Earth?

Words © March 2015 Michelle Payne
Picture: 123rf.com


Challenge 3 of 3 – Grand2Grand Ultra – Arrival

22/03/2015

Life has been so hectic that I’ve not really had enough spare time to just sit down and post about the last part of my Triple Continent Challenge.

Last, but by no means least!

GRAND TO GRAND ULTRA
http://www.g2gultra.com

Mostly this was due to the fact that after Madagascar, I had such little time between the two events… 15 days from finish line in Madagascar to start line at the edge of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, and that was to include work, flying time as well as a couple of days acclimatisation in Kanab, Utah. So, how to sum up such an Adventure?

Some words and phrases I associate with Grand2Grand or g2g as it’s more commonly known:

amazing
inspiring
iconic
bloody hard
a once in a lifetime experience
growth
change
camaraderie
pain
fun
adventure
challenging
sand
sand
more sand
how far to the next checkpoint
are we there yet
more sand
HEART
SOUL
LOVE
FRIENDSHIP

The premise, 273km from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon up to the Grand Staircase, carrying everything you need for the week in a pack on your back. When I signed up I didn’t have much knowledge as to what ultrarunners did… I thought they all did these stage races, so why not do two. How hard could it be? I really must learn not to ask that question in future! The answer is usually: A LOT!

A group of us who had met up previously, gathered at the Airport and celebrated the start of this journey with a few glasses of champagne: not your usual liquid of choice for hydration but it worked just fine at that point ūüôā

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Of course, runners adapt when a sudden dash onto the plane is needed and the bottle isn’t empty… (disclaimer: not naming and shaming, but this isn’t my bottle!)…

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On arrival in Kanab, the residents were fantastic: we were not only warmly welcomed but very kindly looked after during the few days we spent there pre-race: a flight over the town (thanks Dave), sports massage (thanks Marilyn) and a visit to a local animal sanctuary – the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. Now I missed the animal sanctuary visit and really wish I had been able to get there, probably one of only two regrets I have from the trip but I will definitely be visiting the next time I’m in Kanab because the work they do is absolutely amazing. Check out: http://bestfriends.org/ – they are a leader in the no-kill movement and their sanctuary is one of the USA’s largest animal rescue organisations!!

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Kit and paperwork checks were completed in Kanab with a fab final meal catered and then the next day it was out to the first camp at the edge of the Grand Canyon. Words do not do the land justice. Pictures do not do it justice. The photos I have from that day show me stood at the edge but they just cannot convey the sheer scale, size and feeling of actually being there. The only way to feel it is to go there!

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The feeling of excitement was palpable throughout the camp, from the moment we all arrived in jeeps, to getting our kit organised and space chosen in our tents on that first night, to having a catered last supper right there in the middle of nowhere… absolutely superb!

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What a view!

And then storm clouds appeared… cue a sudden dash for tents! ¬†Luckily it passed as quickly as it arrived but I did wonder if that was a portent of things to come. ¬†Event, course, safety and medical talks were given and then as it darkened it was time to get some sleep. ¬†Until I realised a group of people had converged amid some squeaks… now I had heard there were creepy crawlies… what I hadn’t expected was a huge furry tarantula! ¬†Actually I felt sorry for the poor thing… there it sat on the sandy ground encircled by huge humans shining their headtorches onto it… until it moved and then I scampered back to my tent promptly… double-checking the base of the tent was secured against entry should it, or its’ friends, decide to invade!

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Finally Stateside… and the adventure was about to begin…

Check back to hear how it went!
Michelle

© March 2015 Michelle Payne


First session

10/09/2014

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First session

The door swings open
a face then appears
an arm ushers you in…
you want to turn back
as your head starts to spin.

You enter a room and notice
a sofa, a chair, a table
you choose, you sit
your stomach starts to churn…
more than a little bit.

They smile and sit down
bring out some papers
their expression holding a slight frown.

Form filling
factual questions
the word “confidential”…
it’s not what you expected!
Where’s the warmth?
The confessional time?
Why are they not giving you
advice straight down the line?

And then it begins…
an invitation
please tell me
what brings you here?
What would you like to offload?
To share?
What burden do you bear?

Their tone isn’t cold
nor their stare bold
instead, a slight leaning forward
soft words
a smile..
and then you know
you realise
you may be here a while.

You glance around the room
evaluate and wonder…
what if you make a blunder?
Who can hear?
Does everyone feel this fear?

How much should I share?
Why would they even care?
Where should I start?
My god…
calm down…
my racing heart!

A breath, a pause
another thought.
Will I be judged or mocked?
Will they be blase or just plain shocked?

The tears begin to well
the hands go all sticky
by now the stomach feels just plain icky!

Then you decide
even thought it’s unknown
and feels hit or miss
you take a deep breath
and jump into the abyss.

I’m here because…

Your face floods red
your stomach pounds with dread.
You battle the feeling of creeping shame
where you have long held a belief of blame.
You lower your gaze to the floor
and out of your mouth
the words start to pour…

Words © August 2014 Michelle Payne
Picture found circulating freely online


The Broken Child

19/12/2012

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The Broken Child

For children who were broken
it is very hard to mend…
Our pain was rarely spoken
and we hid the truth from friends.

Our parents said they loved us,
but they didn’t act that way.
They broke our hearts and stole our worth,
with the things that they would say.

We wanted them to love us.
We didn’t know what we did
to make them yell at us and hit us,
and wish we weren’t their kid.

They’d beat us up and scream at us
and blame us for their lives.
Then they’d hold us close inside their
arms and tell us confusing lies
of how they really loved us
— even though we were BAD,
and how it was OUR fault they hit us,
OUR fault that they were mad.

When days were just beginning
we sometimes prayed for them to end,
and when the pain kept coming,
we learned to just pretend
that we were good and so were they
and this was just one of those days
…tomorrow we’d be friends.

We had to believe it so.
We had nowhere else to go.
Each day that we pretended,
we replaced reality
with lies, or dreams,
or angry schemes,
in search of dignity ….
until our lies got bigger
than the truth,
and we had no one real to be

Our bodies were forsaken.
With no safe place to hide,
we learned to stop
hearing and feeling
what they did to our outsides.

We tried to make them love us,
till we hated ourselves instead,
and couldn’t see a way out,
and wished that they were dead.
We scared ourselves by thinking that
and scared ourselves to know,
that we were acting just like them
–and might ever more be so.

To be half the size of a grown-
up and trapped inside their pain….
To every day lose everything
with no savior or refrain…
To wonder how it is possible
that God could so forget
the worthy child you knew you were,
when you had not been damaged yet …

To figure on your fingers
the years till you’d be grown
enough to leave the torment
and survive away from home,
were more than you could count to,
or more than you could bear,
was the reality we lived in
and we knew it wasn’t fair.

We who grew up broken
are somewhat out of time,
struggling to mend our childhood,
when our peers are in their prime.
Where others find love and contentment,
we still often have to strive
to remember we are worthy,
and heroes just to be alive.

Some of us are healing.
some of us are stealing.
Most are passing the anger on.
Some give their lives away to drugs,
or the promise of like beyond.
Some still hide from society.
Some struggle to belong.
But all of us are wishing
the past would not hold on so long.

There’s a lot of digging down to do
to find the child within,
to love away the ugly pain
and feel innocence again.
There is forgiveness worthy of angel’s
wings for remembering those at all,
who abused our sacred childhood
and programmed us to fall.
To seek to understand them,
and how their pain became our own,
is to risk the ground we stand on
to climb the mountain home.

The journey is not so lonely
as in the past it has been …
More of us are strong enough
to let the growth begin.
But while we’re trekking up the mountain
we need everything we’ve got,
to face the adults we have become,
and all that we are not.

So when you see us weary
from the day’s internal climb …
When we find fault with your best efforts,
or treat imperfection as purposeful crime …
When you see our quick defenses,
our efforts to control,
our readiness to form a
plan of unrealistic goals …
When we run into a conflict
and fight to the bitter end,
remember ….
We think that winning means
we won’t be hurt again.

When we abandon OUR thoughts and feelings,
to be what we believe YOU want us to,
or look at trouble we’re having,
and want to blame it all on you…
When life calls for new beginnings,
and we fear they re doomed to end,
remember…
Wounded trust is like a wounded knee–
It is very hard to bend.

Please remember this
when we are out of sorts.
Tell us the truth, and be our friend.
For children who were broken…
it is very hard to mend.

~~ Elia Wise ~~


Image origin: Unknown, found circulating on Facebook

With thanks to Serena Poor for sharing this on my Facebook page!


Affirmation of the Week

03/09/2012

“I ALLOW MYSELF MOMENTS OF ESCAPISM”

I’m very much all for the being in the moment (or rather, constantly working on or attempting to or hoping to be in the NOW) yet sometimes, in this heavy sense-driven physical world that we inhabit, I think we need moments of escapism… moments where we can let our minds open to all possibilities, however fantastic… let our fantasies take over, daydream (admittedly so long as they don’t take over our entire life of course).

Sometimes real life can be excruciatingly painful… when we undergo spiritual, emotional and mental challenges, lessons… and losses… in my opinion, they can then bring in the psychosomatic effects in the physical world.

Just to make sure I was understanding the word correctly I googled it… this is the context of my understanding of it and in which I am applying it to this post…

“It is well known that the mind can cause physical symptoms. For example, when we are afraid or anxious we may develop: a fast heart rate, palpitations, feeling sick, shaking (tremor), sweating, dry mouth, chest pain, headaches, a ‘knot in the stomach’, and fast breathing. These physical symptoms are due to an ‘overdrive’ of nervous impulses sent from the brain to various parts of the body, and to the release of adrenaline into the bloodstream when we are anxious”.

So in times of such stress, such pain… how do we keep a balance? How do we cope, especially if there is physical pain that accompanies the problems we encounter?

A few years ago (almost to the week actually)¬†I read all of the Harry Potter books, yep all 7, one after the other… loved the first four films but had never read the books until that point. As it happens my mate’s eldest was clearing some books out, Harry Potter included, so I had already brought them home, very synchronistic!! I love the books even more than the films… how I wish Hogwarts was real (yeah yeah I know, it’s not ;))… wouldn’t you just love to have gone to a school like that? Not to battle demons or anything, but to be able to practice magic like that? To ride on broomsticks & dragons… to make potions, to have wands… etc. etc… pure fantasy (well I haven’t yet seen a broomstick flying across the sky,¬†the “Dog in Sky” episode… well that’s another matter ;)).

Reading this kind of fiction at that time helped me to escape from the physical, emotional, mental & spiritual pain of the *real world* that surrounded me then… from worrying and stressing, from hurting… it gave a few hours respite just when I have needed it the most… not because I wanted to hide away permanently, not because I wanted to construct a fantasy life and try to live that, because I didn’t (well there are certain things I wish I could wave a wand at, hey… can’t blame a girl for wishing ;))… but to help me cope, to grieve, help me start on the new path that I then had to¬†walk… and which would ultimately¬†help me to eventually heal.

Escapism and daydreams can also help us forge our way through to the future, they can help to bring about realities that we wish for… by visualising the best for ourselves, our families and our friends… we can then see something that may be possible, that we can strive for, can turn into reality.

Reading then was the escapism that I not only needed, but a gift that I gave to myself. So my question to you this week is how can you best use some escapism to help yourself, and what beneficial effects will it bring to you?

Wishing you a wonderful week ahead ♥

© 2012 Michelle Payne


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